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SAO Exchange: Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Quito, Ecuador (Exchange Program) (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester,
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
Host Family
Non-Illinois Student Options:
All non-Illinois students
Illinois Sponsor:
Study Abroad Office (campus-wide)
Credit or Not for Credit:
For credit
Program Description:
- An Illinois Center for Global Learning and Engagement

Program Overview

The University of Illinois SAO believes in offering students the opportunity to live, explore and develop through cultural immersion while benefiting from sound an academic program and superior student services. We have created a one-of-a-kind semester or year program in Ecuador that offers an integrated academic and social environment and the support and encouragement of a knowledgeable, experienced program staff.

Quick Links

Program Specific Information
General Study Abroad Information
Program Costs, Financial Aid & Scholarships *Please note that program-specific costs are available through the "Budget Sheet" link at the top of this page.
Health & Safety Information
Passport/Visa Information


Academic Environment

Where you will study

Students on the Ecuador Program enroll at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). This university has a distinct personality; it is a unique blend of a peaceful location, excellent academic opportunities and a motivated student population.

USFQ building usfq galileo USFQ classroom

Through the Ecuador exchange program you will enroll direcly into the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. This allows you to take nearly any class available at the university. Depending on the course, you may be with all international students, a mix of international and Ecuadorian, or all Ecuadorian students. The majority of these classes will be taught completely in Spanish. Below are a sample of disciplines available at USFQ:

Agriculture, Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Biology, Cinema and Television, Communication/Media, Ecology, Economics/Businesses, Engineering, Food Sciences, Health/Medicine, History, Spanish, Languages, Law, Music, Physical Education, Psychology, Sociology, Veterinary Science, Women's Studies, Accounting, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Graphic Design, Hospitality, Human Resources, Marketing, Mathematics, Natural Resources, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Tourism.

For a full listing of courses, click on the following link.

Class size
USFQ is a small, private liberal arts school of about 4500 undergraduates, of which 1000 are international students mostly from the U.S.  Class sizes vary, but most are small lecture-discussions of about 15-30 students that meet 2-3 times per week.  

Students should note that USFQ's online course system lists courses as 1 credit hour more than their UIUC course equivalents.  For example, a class that shows as 4 credit hours at USFQ will only come back as 3 credit hours at UIUC, and a class that shows as 3 credit hours at USFQ will only come back as 2 credit hours at UIUC.  Students with credit-hour requirements for financial aid or scholarships should keep this in mind when planning their schedules.

Courses as USFQ are primarily taught in Spanish.  Courses in English are available, along with courses to learn other languages such as Quichua, Chinese, French, and more.

kl usfq registration

Experiential Learning / Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering is an important part of our program. A majority of students in previous semesters have sought further integration in Ecuadorian life by volunteering in organizations dealing with issues of environmental protection, in women's shelters, orphanages, retirement homes, public schools and public hospitals. The Resident Director can advise you on finding volunteer positions. Please note that these positions are meant to enhance your study abroad experience; they are not granted academic credit and are unpaid. For volunteer opportunities, click here: Ecuador_Volunteer.pdf

Excursions to three to four points of interest outside of Quito are included in the program. Past excursions include a two-day trip to the traditional indigenous market at Otavalo and surrounding lakes and nature areas, a day trip to the Papallacta natural hot springs in the eastern cordillera of the Andes Mountains, and a weekend trip to Puerto Quito - a tropical rain forest located three hours from Quito. The diverse locations and environments you visit are sure to be unforgettable, and will get you started in exploring Ecuador on your own. The cost of transportation, lodging, and meals on these excursions is included in the program fee.

Tiputini Biodiversity Station, located at the heart of the Yasuní National Park in the Amazon Rainforest, is a favorite trip among students.  Built in one of the most pristine sections of rainforest in the world as a joint project by USFQ and a few U.S. universities, the station is only accessible by riverboat and houses researchers who need to get up close and personal to the wildlife.   The station also has cabins for visitors, and  every international student at USFQ has the opportunity to visit the unique research station for 4 days for an additional cost of about $400-$500 dollars.  Local guides and workers will take students along trails and in boats to get a look at tropical birds, insects, dolphins, and every animal you could imagine. Tiputini is famous for being the most biodiverse place in the world, but also for the oil reserves that lie below it and threaten its preservation.  Read about National Geographic's coverage of Tiputini here, and about USFQ's involvement here.

Onsite Support

Each Illinois Center has an onsite resident director whose purpose is to support you both inside and outside of the classroom during your time abroad.

Resident Director Profile

Maria Teresa Barragan

Maria Teresa Barragan, born in Riobamba, Ecudor, has been the Academic Director and RD of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito-Illinois Exchange program since 1994. As an adolescent, Maria lived and studied in Baltimore, Maryland for her high school years. After studying in the States, she returned to Ecuador and received a degree from the Universidad Catolica de Quito in linguistics and became an English teacher. She received a masters degree in Intercultural Education from Newport University in California years later. Outside of being the RD, she is the founder and now president (since 2005) of the Foundation FEVI (Foundation for Intercultural Education and  Volunteering). The foundation works with the education of children in marginal areas of Ecuador. Personally, she is married with 2 grown children: Jorge, who is 33 years old and lives in Switzerland, and Andres, who is 21 and lives and studies in Ecuador.

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Students will live with an Ecuadorian family carefully selected by the Resident Director, based on the preferences you express. Your homestay will introduce you to Ecuadorian society and culture, and help you improve your Spanish. Past participants often cite the home stay as the most beneficial and memorable aspect of their study abroad experience.


host fam street

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Application Process


You need to have completed the equivalent of four college semesters of Spanish prior to your departure. At Illinois, Spanish 140, 141, 142, or 143 count as the fourth semester. If you have not taken any Spanish in college, you need to have completed four years of high school Spanish. If you are a heritage speaker of Spanish and have not taken a Spanish course(s), this program might be the perfect one for you -- please contact the Study Abroad Office to talk about your linguistic background and goals.

Dates and Deadlines

All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day. Preference will be given to students applying by the priority deadlines.
Spring Semester Programs
Priority Deadline: June 15
Final Deadline: September 15
Summer/Fall/Academic Year Programs
Priority Deadline: January 15
Final Deadline: February 15 

How to Apply

Please click the Create App button (found at the top-right of this page) to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable $25 application fee by clicking Create App and logging in.
The USFQ, Ecuador application requires:

  • Official transcript
  • 1 letter of recommendation (must be from an academic advisor, TA, or professor but does not need to be from a Spanish instructor)
  • Personal essay in Spanish and in English
  • Online questionnaires
  • 2 Personal Photos

Additional information and supplemental application requirements will follow once you are accepted to the program.

 ecuador ecuador

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Resources & Contact Information

Walk-In Advising Hours
Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 4:45 pm
Study Abroad Office Resource Center (112 International Studies Building)

First Steps Info Sessions:
Click here for the dates and times of the First Steps Info Sessions.

Ecuador Program Advisor
Clair Bryan

Location and Mailing Address
Study Abroad Office
910 South Fifth Street
112 International Studies Building
Champaign, IL 61820

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Program Dates

Please review the program dates table below:

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2015 09/15/2014
Rolling Admission 01/10/2015 05/17/2015
Fall Semester 2015 02/15/2015
Rolling Admission 08/22/2015 12/23/2015
Academic Year 2015-2016 02/15/2015
Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Spring Semester 2016 09/15/2015 09/15/2015 TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed